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5 Shows like Will & Grace: LGBT Spotlight

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorIf you’re a fan of shows like ‘Will & Grace’ which embrace the LGBT community, you should check out ‘L Word’ and ‘F to 7th’. ~ Roxanne Sancto

The TV Series that Changed America…

According to Jack Myers’ book ‘The Future of Men: End of the Age of Dominant Males’, the 1998 NBC sitcom ‘Will & Grace’, changed America in terms of how they view the LGBT community.

“Art, in its best form, allows you to experience life and ultimately changes the way you view the world. Will & Grace was one of those rare television shows to do just that. It was entertaining, but it did more than just amuse its viewers.”

The show introduced the gay lawyer Will (Eric McCormack), his best friend Grace (Debra Messing) and their mutual friends Jack (Sean Hayes), a flamboyantly gay actor who finds depth in the superficial and Karen (Megan Mullally) a raging alcoholic whose purse resembles a pharmacy.

Unlike Jack Myer’, however, Christopher Kelly, a writer at, believes that TV series like ‘Will & Grace’ are “walking compendium(s) of queer clichés”. Seeing as there seems to be a lot of disagreement about the series, we’ve compiled a list of “clichéd” shows as well as those that shine a more realistic light on the LGBT community, in order to appeal to a wider audience. Here we go!


Shows Similar to ‘Will & Grace’…

‘Ellen’ (ABC, 1994)

This show focuses on Ellen (DeGeneres), a book shop manager and her eccentric friends Paige (Joely Fisher), her roommate Adam (Arye Gross), the sarcastic Joe (David Anthony Higgins), Audrey (Clea Lewis) and Anita (Maggie Wheeler).

‘Ellen’ made TV history with “The Puppy Episode”, in which Ellen comes out of the closet by accidentally announcing “I’m Gay!” into the public address microphone in an airport terminal. This was considered extremely controversial at the time, causing ABC to place a parental advisory on each episode from then on.

In the final seasons of ‘Ellen’, the show took on a more serious tone and openly discussed LGBT issues. Unfortunately, it seems as though the audience was not interested in learning more about the LGBT community and the problems they are confronted with on a day to day basis, causing ABC to pull the show in 1998.

Similarity Match: 80%
Like ‘Will & Grace’, ‘Ellen’ focuses on a gay main character with a group of quirky friends. Both shows often explore the sarcastic, self-deprecating type of humour but the LGBT community is far more central on ‘Will & Grace’ than it is on ‘Ellen’.

‘Modern Family’ (ABC, 2009)

We all love ‘Modern Family’ for various reasons but what really makes the show are the dream-team Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet). They have little in common but somehow they just make it work. Mitchell brings Cam down when he’s flying too high on his sparkling unicorn and Cam is probably the only person on the planet who knows how to get Mitchell out of his shell.

TV shows like ‘Modern Family’ are refreshing in that, they have allowed same-sex couples to become a central part of the family. This finally allows viewers to get a glimpse into the every-day life of a gay couple and their adoptive child, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), normalizing a living situation that unfortunately, is still considered “unnatural” by some.

Similarity Match: 75%
While ‘Will & Grace’ mostly enjoy the carefree, single lifestyle, Cam & Mitchell have already built a home and family for themselves so their routines differ; but the characters on both shows are fun-loving and comical.

‘L Word’ (Showtime, 2004)

Showtime’s 2004 hit series ‘L Word’ focuses on a group of incredibly intelligent, beautiful and no-shit-taking lesbian women in West Hollywood.

Contrary to series similar to ‘Will & Grace’, the characters on ‘L Word’ don’t rely on stereotypes to make them interesting. This circle of friends is made up of a group of women that are very different from one another: while Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig) for example, openly embraces her sexuality, Dana Fairbands (Erin Daniels) has a hard time accepting herself for who she really is.

The New York Times stated that Showtime’s airing the series was “akin to ending a drought with a monsoon”, referring to the fact that it is the first show in which the characters are openly gay instead of closeted.

Similarity Match: 55%
Although ‘L Word’ is more of a drama, it does tend to employ comedy and a lot of guest-star actors, similar to ‘Will & Grace’.


If You Like ‘Will & Grace’, You Will Like…

As already mentioned in the introduction, ‘Will & Grace’ was often criticised for turning to clichés in their portrayal of same-sex couples or gay characters in general. If you’re looking for something a tad more edgy and realistic, a TV series that doesn’t shy away from discussing the realities of the LGBT community, you’ll definitely get into TV series like ‘F to 7th’.

‘Banana’ (E4, 2015)

Created by Russell T. Davies, the man behind ‘Queer as Folk’, ‘Banana’ follows the lives of the young LGBT community in Manchester. The show’s title refers to the middle scale of an erection and is the sister series to ‘Tofu’ (flaccid) and ‘Cucumber’ (fully erect).

Whereas the characters in ‘Cucumber’ have a hard time coming to terms with their sexualities due to their upbringing or professional statuses in life, the characters on ‘Banana’ are open, free and curious to explore. This was the first show to have cast a transgender actor in a transgender role (Helen, played by comedian Bethany Black).

Think of ‘Banana’ as a show with a mixture of young Jack McFarland and Will Truman characters, only their sense of humour is dry and British as opposed to perky and American.

‘F to 7th’ (Web Series, 2013)

Ingrid Jungermann’s “homoneurotic web series” has a unique take on comedy. As Jungermann said herself in an interview with Backstage: “The comedy I’m drawn to very much [deals with] my way of not communicating with the world—my problems with not being able to connect to people and not being able to voice my response to the world.”

The series focuses on Ingrid and her struggles to accept herself when the rest of the world –bar her mother – has already made peace with her sexuality and personality.

Unlike ‘Will & Grace’, the ‘F to 7th’ episodes are very short (usually around five minutes) and the humour is incredibly raw, but both explore the LGBT community from different angels.


Authentic or Clichéd? What Takes Your Preference?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with preferring light-hearted, clichéd shows similar to ‘Will & Grace’ – they’re entertaining and different. But it’s also interesting watching a series with a realistic take on same sex couples and families.

Which of the two do you prefer?

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